Saturday, 24 April 2010

As the General Election approaches

The Green Party campaign in Weaver Vale

I must have been one of the first candidates to arrive at the Forum in Chester to get my nomination papers confirmed. This is an anxious time for candidates because a mistake on the forms could mean that you have to re-submit. That would be no fun for me as I live 20 miles away and had to take a day off work to get there, plus the window - just 4 days between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm - is ridiculously short. I met up with Tom Barker the Green PPC for City of Chester. Our nominations went OK and we retired to a nearby pub for a celebratory drink. Our campaigns had begun in earnest.

So what do you do if you are a GP candidate in a constituency where there has never been a GP candidate before and you have no well oiled party machine to give you support? You make the most of the resources you have. I have had help from the few members we have here and some good local friends and supporters all of whom have made a great contribution by tramping the streets delivering our flyers. But we have only 3000 flyers for a constituency where we could have done with at least 30,000!

My employer has helped by allowing me to take unpaid leave which I will have to make the most of in the coming days until the election. Part of the deal is that I have to resign if elected! Well, I think that is unlikely. So far I have delivered the best part of 1000 flyers myself - thank goodness the weather has been fine - although the barmy June-like weather we are having is only another reminder of climate change. Most of my campaigning has been through the web. Is this the best approach? Should I be spending my time knocking on doors or replying to the many emails I've received ? The simple answer is I don't know. The target I'm setting myself is 1000 votes. Depending on turnout that probably won't be enough to save my deposit but it would be a respectable start.

This is a potentially a momentous election and it's a privilege to be taking part. I joined the Green Party because I believe in its policies and principles. Like many others I used to be a Labour supporter. But when they abandoned their core beliefs - I abandoned them. Ultimately you have to vote for what you believe in. If you want change for the better you have to engage in the political process. Apathy only benefits the ruling elite who have been exploiting the British people for far too long. The Green Party has policies which are fair and just and it is the only party which has the policies to tackle social injustice and climate change.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

My priorities for Weaver Vale

David Cameron is asking the electorate to vote for change but if voters back him, New Labour or the Liberal Democrats, they will get more of the same – business as usual. The same failed economic policies that have lead to the current economic crisis and the banker’s bonus bonanza will be followed. The Green Party has policies that will create jobs, protect vital public services and tackle the current economic crisis in a way that is fair to everyone. That’s real change

My priorities are jobs and public services. We are still in an economic crisis and there will be savage cuts and job losses in public services if New Labour or the Tories come to power. The Green Party policies include the protection of public services and the creation of one million jobs in insulating homes and renewable energy. These jobs will help the one million young people who are unemployed find meaningful work and learn new jobs and skills, as well as saving families money on their energy bills and reducing our carbon outputs.

We would also intoduce a living wage of £8.10 per hour to replace the minimum wage and a citizens pension of £170 pw for single people and £300 pw for couples to end pensioner poverty.

This programme is fully costed and will be paid for by fairer taxation including the removal of the ceiling on national insurance contributions and scrapping Trident and ID cards. It would be wrong, when our economy is so fragile, to introduce the kind of savage cuts proposed by the other parties.

If you want to find out more about our policies take a look at the previous post on this blog.

Green Party Policies

Green Party policies

The banking system

When it comes to the banking system The Green Party believe the government has acted completely irresponsibly. They have forced us, the tax-payer, to bail out the bankers. Yet they have failed to ensure that the same banks give desperately needed credit to families and independent businesses.

We will fight for a fair financial deal, with community banks, credit unions and mutuals. This will ensure those who need financial help are given realistic loans, so they can survive the current economic hardship that we are facing today.

We also believe it’s unfair that these irresponsible bankers continue to earn extortionate salaries and bonuses, while 330,000 hard working people still earn less than the low minimum wage. Which is why we will fight to introduce a High Pay Commission to ensure bankers and other highly paid executives in the private and public sectors are not rewarded for their failure.

Health and the NHS

The Green Party think it's unfair that public money is wasted on botched privatisation schemes.

The yearly cost of these privatisation schemes is over £1billion pounds and we are the ones left to foot the bill.

The government tells us that the schemes will provide us with choice. In reality it does nothing to ensure that efficient and effective health care is provided and it actually reduces some of the many health benefits we currently enjoy. It's unfair that quality of care suffers when hospitals and surgeries are treated like profit-driven businesses rather than public services.

We will fight for a fair deal for those needing health care by opposing cuts, closures and privatisation and by demanding a full programme of locally accessible services. In particular, we will maintain the principle of a free NHS by implementing in England and Wales the scheme that provides free social care to the elderly in Scotland.

We believe in keeping the health service free – we would abolish prescription charges, re-introduce free eye tests and ensure NHS chiropody is widely available. We will also fight to restore free dental care and provide everyone with the choice of an NHS dentist.


The present pension system is a disgrace. We think it's unfair that people who have worked hard all their lives are eventually denied the pension they were promised, leaving many facing poverty and hardship.

The Green Party in Parliament will fight for a fair deal for older people. We would ensure all pensioners receive a basic non-means tested £170 a week. We would also ensure they receive free care and support for those living independently, at home, in sheltered and extra-care housing or in residential care.

The Green Party would introduce a free home insulation programme for all homes that need it, with priority for pensioners and those living in fuel poverty. We aim to insulate 4 million homes every year.


Right now Britain has a shortage of affordable and good quality housing to buy or rent. At the same time many home-owners are in danger of losing their properties in the recession and homelessness is still affecting thousands of people.

The Green Party will fight for a fair housing deal for all. We want to make it easier for people to get on the property ladder, to protect home-owners and to eradicate homelessness for good. Our comprehensive proposal includes:

  • Building a new generation of quality council homes
  • Supporting the development of housing co-ops
  • Bringing back into use Britain's 300,000 long-term empty private sector homes
  • Renovating Britain's 37,000 empty council homes to help cut waiting lists
  • Giving social housing tenants greater control over the management of their homes and neighbourhoods
  • Improving the quality of housing stock to help reduce household bills
  • Helping people at risk of repossession keep their homes via a Right to Rent scheme.

Jobs and a living wage

Right now unemployment is skyrocketing and the government is doing little about it. Our policy is to fight for a fair, stable and sustainable economy.

Top bankers continue to pocket your money in the form of unearned bonuses, while factories, firms and farms are forced to lay off more and more workers by the day, week and month.

This must end. Our major and immediate priority is the creation of an extra million jobs and training places. An immediate £44bn package of measures would include workforce training, investment in renewables, public transport, insulation, social housing and waste management.

These jobs will provide our country with the vital 21st century infrastructure it needs, including an efficient public transport system, homes that are warm and cheaper to run and much lower energy costs for businesses.

The gap between rich and poor in the UK has never been wider and it continues to get worse. We think it's unfair that the Government has failed to do anything about it.

We are demanding the introduction of a 'Living Wage'. This will help ensure low paid workers earn enough to provide for themselves and their families and eradicate poverty in Britain for good. The Green Party will fight for a National Minimum Wage of 60% of net national average earnings (currently this would mean a minimum wage of £8.10 per hour).

We will also fight for a fair financial deal with community banks, credit unions and mutuals to provide realistic loans to families and small businesses.


Train fares in England are some of the highest in Europe. The Green Party would bring trains under public ownership to ensure we have a better service and lower fares. By doing se we can provide a real alternative for those wanting to leave their car at home.

We would divert money currently being wasted on huge road projects (about £30bn) and put more of the UK’s transport budget into public transport, especially local schemes for walking, cycling and bus-travel.

We would spend £1.5bn subsidising existing public transport to make fares up to 10% cheaper and £30bn over the Parliament on investing in a better system. This will have the effect of strengthening communities, promoting a greater appreciation of place, reducing crime, improving the health of the population, and reducing traffic fatalities. And it would also create 160,000 jobs.

Young people

We think it's unfair that young people are demonised for hanging around on our streets. In most cases they simply have nowhere else to go and activities for young people are being reduced across the country.

The Green Party will fight for a fair deal for young people and their parents by investing in their future. We will pledge to double spending on youth services, spending an extra £1bn a year so that local councils can provide a variety of activities that give young people fun and affordable things to do.

The Green Party’s plan to fund 2000 Young People's Centres would create dedicated spaces for young people to meet and be creative. The centres would also offer access to information and specialist support for teenagers in difficulty.

Every young person under the age of 18, and in full time education would also be entitled to off-peak free bus fares.

If you want to find out more go to

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Green Party General Election Launch

Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas launches our election campaign

Now we are underway at last

The phony war is over and we are now in the election proper. Here in west Cheshire Green Party members have been working to make the best of our limited resources. We have raised just enough money to pay for the deposits of 2 candidates: myself in Weaver Vale and Tom Barker in City of Chester. Now we have to use all of our remaining funds to get our election flyers printed.

The Green Party doesn't have the resources of the main grey parties. We don't have corporate donors and rich tax exiles like Lord Ashcroft to fund us. We rely on small donations from party members and people who are sympathetic to our cause.

The next job for me as a candidate is to get my nomination papers signed and handed in. This is more onerous than it sounds. Forms have to be filled in correctly, and can only be delivered by the candidate or agent by hand between 10-4pm on weekdays between 15 and 20th of April! For those, like me, who work full time and have no agent this means taking at least 1/2 day off work. This is the worst bit for me because I know if I make a mistake I will have to go back and do it again - taking more time off in the process. That's democracy in action - but it could be a bit more user friendly.

I'll be posting more here about how our campaign in West Cheshire progresses. In the meantime if you want to find out more about the Green Party and its policies follow this link